The end of an era and on to a new one

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Howdy y’all thanks for stopping by. I hope the last two weeks have been good ones and that the disappointment of solar activities have been eclipsed by generally fun spring frolicking. Or something like that anyway.

No news on cancer, so that’s good news :)

With a break from tradition I’m going to blog today about work. Those of you who follow my musings about life, having cancer and navigating the weird inner workings of the NHS and indeed my own mind will know I have never blogged work before.

I founded a company (www.nutbourne.com) a few years back with one of my best chums. Since the humble days of working in my loft conversion office, and having our only other staff member knock on the door every morning we have done pretty well.

As a company we provide IT services to companies in London and the home counties, services such as support and projects, and also help people move office, by planning new spaces and the  building all the internal bits, meeting rooms and the likes.

When we started Patrick was full time for Nutbourne, and the  three months later Paul came onboard. I continued to work my job and so was able to take no salary whilst doing incidental sales around my everyday work. It was a bit stressful at times but we quickly got to the point where I could jump on board.

Another four months went past with my house office fitting in three of us. Jo was a sport and even though Paul came round once or twice when she was getting dressed we all got along well.

Then we needed another member of staff so we began to look for digs.

Finding a somewhat dilapidated office in Bow was a stroke of luck as it was cheap and cheerful, and we could overlook the rather gritty environment of the toilet and other communal areas in our desire for flexible working space.

We recruited Natasha when we had this four person office, and soon got an apprentice onboard, Aaron. Our operation was small but we needed a bigger room so moved next door to a 6 person office.

Soon this was too small as well, so we took a 12 person office. We learnt a lot by trial and error and had some major mistakes, as well as unexpected wins. One thing I have learnt as a small business owner is to make sure you always look at process. Are there better ways of doing things? Things you put in place as a four person company don’t work for 16 of you. Also even if something is working, can it be done better?

An example of this is when I began to sell IT last year because we realised that sales experience was more important that product knowledge. I’ve since got product knowledge as well, but it meant we could shift Patrick to a more project based role, maximising his strengths.

Fast forward to now and we are mid moving office. Out from the cheap but cheerful business centre and down the road to our own more self contained office in Stratford. This has too. For 20 and so should see us well fitted for the next year or two. Even so with the amount of work we keep winning and how we unexpectedly grow, we may exceed that number sooner.

The team we have are great, with passion their number one best trait. Having worked in such a close knit team Patrick, Paul and I have come to learn there strengths and weaknesses and learnt how best to lead them.

I also have a few of my family working with me, and I can’t fault how hard they work and the time they put in. It makes the dynamic more complicated at times, but it’s also nice to get to know them in a different setting to family gatherings and to see how they relate to people. We rarely see our friends and families work face and I have no doubt some are very different to their casual out of work personalities.

Looking back how far we have come though it’s a great change for us. I’m not a nostalgic chap, although everyone who reads this know I am introspective, but I can’t help feeling good about how much the team has achieved. We have surrounded ourselves with good members of staff, all of whom are thoroughly nice people, and this has made it a pleasure to go to work.

Of course there are still stressful times, and people make mistakes, but working for yourself, surrounded by hand picked and loyal people make work good to go to. Not having a manager helps as well, although it does mean that you are the ultimate backstop. As a business owner your employees look to you to solve issues and make calls when things get tough. It’s a big responsibility but also very rewarding.

In previous roles I had to think about work less but didn’t enjoy it anywhere as much. To move to Nutbourne I had to take a considerable pay cut, but it’s worth every penny. I say to all of you, if you don’t like what you are doing, leave, find something better for you, even if you have to take a pay cut. Life is too short to labour at something you don’t enjoy for a boss you may not like. (My team are excluded from this sentiment. I need all of you, don’t quit even if you hate me…)

I have to shoot now, to go and pitch IT support to someone. Later on I’m back to the office to celebrate the move and to focus on what lies ahead. Nutbourne is going places and, Cancer permitting, I intend to go a long way with it too.

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